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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Default Moonrise Photography

The other day I was treated with sublime moment - full moon rising above Athabasca on Icefields:


I find these conditions very challenging; long exposure is problematic because moon as celestial object moves very fast and anything longer than 5-8 seconds will make it look blurry. This makes narrow aperture (large F), in order to make things look sharp, virtually impossible. I don't like high ISO because of noise. I tried variety of settings and shot above is about the best I could come up with - but it still looks pretty bad. It is F4, 2.5 secs and ISO 640. Edited for highlights and 2 layers imposed on background in post-processing.

Can someone share experience and some recommendations? Moments like this don't happen very often & when they do I'd like to be able to capture them in best possible way.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 03:09 PM
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You don't need long exposure to photograph the moon. It is too bright. You can even shoot it hand held. The moon in your shot is blown out, too bright. Take a shot of the moon without blowing highlights, then take a long exposure for the foreground (including mountains). Then blend them in photoshop.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Arnold
Take a shot of the moon without blowing highlights, then take a long exposure for the foreground (including mountains). Then blend them in photoshop.
I don't use PS that much & didn't think about taking 2 separate shots then superimposing them. That is good advice, thanks!

But what about if taking a single shot? Or is it the case of "This is simply how such photos are NOT done"?
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 03:46 PM
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Looks like a beautiful evening.

Arnold's right. With a single exposure, you're either going to blow out the moon or lose the foreground in shadow. The only way to handle the dynamic range is to blend multiple images.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 03:49 PM
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If you want to attempt to achieve it in a single shot you need to adjust your settings to expose the image as much as possible without clipping the highlights. Keep an eye on your histogram after each shot. It's easier to recover details from blown highlights than from underexposed shadows.

But, like Arnold said, two shots or more shots is ideal. With a moon that bright you won't need a terribly long exposure for the landscape so any movement in the moon will be minimal.

- Setup exposure bracketing in Manual or aparture priority mode if your camera can do it, this will take 3 sequential shots at different exposures. Loss of shadows and blown highlights are okay since you have 2 other photos to grab details from, but play around until you find the exposures you like for the shadows, highlights, midtones.

- <s>Change your firing mode from Single to burst / rapid / multi (whatever your brand calls it)</s> edit:Actually this isn't necessary if you have the timer on or are using a remote shutter. Added another bullet too.

- Turn on the shutter timer or use a remote shutter to avoid any camera shake as you press the shutter

- Get a tripod

Let me know if you have any other questions
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by smier
- Setup exposure bracketing in Manual or aparture priority mode if your camera can do it, this will take 3 sequential shots at different exposures.
Yes; I have HDR feature so bracketed frames can be even blended right in camera. Problem is movement of the moon, because by the time 3 (or 5) shots were taken too much time would have passed.

I think Arnold' suggestion is right but it requires some PS skills, which is not a bad thing to have anyways
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 04:14 PM
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Ahh not as much as you think, you can get good results from the automated scripts.

File &gt; Automate &gt; Merge to HDR Pro
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by zeljkok

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by smier
- Setup exposure bracketing in Manual or aparture priority mode if your camera can do it, this will take 3 sequential shots at different exposures.
Yes; I have HDR feature so bracketed frames can be even blended right in camera. Problem is movement of the moon, because by the time 3 (or 5) shots were taken too much time would have passed.

I think Arnold' suggestion is right but it requires some PS skills, which is not a bad thing to have anyways
Is the moon really going to move too much in a few seconds for a shot like that? (where the moon is small)
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 04:27 PM
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I don't think so, I'd say you have 30seconds before it starts to become noticable. The combined exposure times for the bracketed photos should be under that if you're shooting with a large aparture.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by swebster

Is the moon really going to move too much in a few seconds for a shot like that? (where the moon is small)
I was very surprised! By the time I've set the tripod it went from just barely peeking above Boundary ridge to fully blown (as in the image). As I said in original post, anywhere between 5-10 seconds before it becomes noticeable -- which, granted, might be enough.

This is separate discussion, but recently I read somewhere that even for night skies - i.e. "milky way" type of shots, 25-30 seconds is maximum. And moon is much closer than stars. (Of course it is Earth that is moving, not moon or stars, but this is irrelevant)



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post #11 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 04:48 PM
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The maximum depends on the focal length of your lens.

There's a formula you can use the 500 or 600 rule, 500 being more conservative.

500 / (Focal Length * Crop factor) = Maximum exposure time.

So for a 14mm lens on a 6d (a full frame camera with a crop factor of 1) you get

500 / (14*1) = 35s

for a 14mm lens on a 7d (a crop sensor camera) you get

500/ (14*1.6) = 22s


You need to determine out the focal length of your lens and the crop factor of your camera's sensor. The moon moves at a different speed so it will be shorter than the stars.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 09-08-2014, 06:11 PM
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Yes, this is how night photography is done, if you want to have a lit foreground. You take a shot exposed for the sky, then another for foreground. Some even take a shot during twilight, then wait a couple hours (without moving the camera) and take a shot for the sky. You really need to use PS, I don't know of any other way. Well, maybe you can use ND gradient filters, but you'd be much better off by mastering blending in PS.

I don't think there should be any problem with moon moving in this case, because your shutter on the moon will likely be at least 1/200, if not faster. The shutter on the foreground can be much slower, because in that shot the moon will be masked out later in PS.
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